SEATTLE — Amazon continues to shake up the industry and expand while making it increasingly difficult for competitors to tread water in its wake. The online giant is considering opening up to 3,000 of its cashier-less Amazon Go convenience stores by 2021, Bloomberg News reported last month, based on sources familiar with the potential plans.
The time line Amazon has in mind, those sources say, is to have 10 Go stores in operation by the end of 2018, 50 by the end of 2019 and as many as 3,000 by 2021. Bloomberg also reported that Amazon is targeting dense urban neighborhoods, in particular, that have a large consumer base of time-pressed pedestrians who are willing to spend more money on healthier and better-quality food than they would otherwise purchase at a fast-food restaurant or typical convenience store for less.
Having recently opened its fourth Amazon Go store, Amazon is weighing modifications to the model as it looks to expand the Go concept, possibly adding a limited selection of groceries to complement its focus on prepared food pickup, Bloomberg reported. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment for this article.
Amazon’s maiden Go store opened to the public in January at the company’s Seattle headquarters following a test run during which the store was available only to the Amazon employees. Two other Seattle Go locations have followed, the latest being a 2,000-square-foot store that opened last month on the first floor of the complex that houses Amazon’s Chicago operations. The company has confirmed plans for Go stores in New York and San Francisco.
Utilizing the latest technology, customers enter the Go stores through a turnstile after swiping the Amazon Go app on their smartphones. Once inside, they are able to select items they want from among the mix of prepared and packaged food items, soft drinks and meal kits on the shelves — then, when they are done, customers simply leave the store without having to wait to check out with their items. Instead, their purchases are tracked by object recognition and inventory management systems, which automatically debit the shopper’s account for their chosen items, sending a receipt to the app.
According to a report in the Seattle Times, the pace of expansion for Amazon Go has been a subject of internal debate, with the company looking to bring down costs of the high-tech systems that automate the stores. Hardware installed for the first Seattle store cost between $2 million and $3 million.
Amazon is one of several companies — including retailers and technology startups — specializing in such areas as robotics and data management.